The Null Device
A review of a new book on changing patterns of recreational drug use in the USA:
...according to several metrics, acid use was at "an historic low: 3.5 percent." By 2003, it was down to 1.9 percent. Why? It wasn't just that LSD had gone out of style, although it had, somewhat. Grim found evidence of a perfect storm of causes for the decline. In 2000, the DEA had arrested a man named William Pickard, thought to be the manufacturer of as much as 95 percent of the available acid in the U.S. The Grateful Dead, whose concerts provided an opportunity for suppliers and users to connect and network, had stopped touring after the 1995 death of Jerry Garcia, and Phish, a jam band that had stepped in to fill the gap, also stopped touring by the end of 2000. The rave scene began to fade away under pressure from authorities who threatened to arrest organizers for drug offenses committed at their events.And then this depressing picture of an atomised, asocial society, which ties in with the bowling-alone mass-alienation idea:
Today's kids aren't smoking much pot because pot is a "social" drug, shared among peers who gather in parking lots and other hangouts; teens have less unstructured time now and tend to socialize online. They still get high, only on prescription drugs pilfered from adults or ordered off the Internet. "There's no social ritual involved," he observes, "just a glass of water and a pill," which "fits well into a solitary afternoon."The rest of the review looks pretty interesting, including the theory that recreational drugs have cycles, in which they become popular, then become lame, and then come back sometime later to a generation who have never witnessed their effects, illustrated by an anecdote about kids regarding Ecstasy as "too hard on your body" and cocaine as "not that bad".
Your humble correspondent saw Of Montreal in London last week. For what it's worth, they were as good as always, and photos are here.
I'm not sure if they were quite good enough to have paid twice for seeing them, though, which is what I ended up doing after my ticket didn't show up. I had ordered it, along with a ticket to another show in the future (Animal Collective on the 20th of August) from TicketWeb a week earlier, and until that morning, nothing arrived. I went to work as usual, and when I returned, I found an envelope waiting for me, though, upon opening it, discovered that it contained only the tickets for the show in August.
I went to the venue, explaining my situation, and asking if they had a ticket for me or my name on a list; they didn't, and told me to ring TicketWeb. I did, and found that their customer service line was closed for the night. So I ended up buying another ticket at the door, in the hope of getting a refund for my unused ticket when it turned up.
The ticket arrived in the mail yesterday, a whole six days late. Today, I rang TicketWeb, explaining my situation, and asking whether I could get a refund. They said that no; apparently, the onus is on the consumer to report that the ticket hadn't shown up before close of business on the day of the event. Which leaves me some £18 out of pocket.
Any other industry would be sufficiently concerned about its customer relations to throw a bone to the customer and issue a refund in good faith. (I offered to mail them the unused ticket as proof that I hadn't sold it on or anything.) Major event ticket agencies, however, are a corrupt oligopoly and, like all corrupt oligopolies, are quite happy to tell the customer to go screw themselves. After all, you play by their rules, however skewed and arbitrary they are, or it's no Beyonce for you.
Anyway, I have had enough, and I will never do business with TicketWeb or their parent company TicketMaster again. Even if this means not seeing any gig larger than would fit in the room above a pub, though thankfully, it does not come down to this. (There are more reputable ticket agencies selling tickets for a lot of events; We Got Tickets is one, and then there is the possibility of buying directly from venues.) Of course, not doing business with the TicketBastard probably means no LiveNation corporate-indie mega-events, but I can live with that. Anyway, if you're looking to buy a ticket to a gig, I urge you to avoid the thieving bastards at TicketMaster/TicketWeb.